Progress Report 65: Turntable and Associated Track Work

Short Version

Track from Turntable to 1 Road within storage shed laid, connected and tested with locomotive. Temporarily laid 4 Road track off turntable permanently spiked. 3 Road partially laid and also in use.

The Informative Version

At 1515 hours on Friday 5th March, 2021 Pete’s Hobby Railway Ruston diesel locomotive, with Dave in charge, powered slowly off the turntable to become the first item of rolling stock to test the newly laid track leading into No. 1 Road within the Storage Shed. With both internal tracks now connected to the turntable, the shed can be fully utilised for its intended purpose.

Progress Report 60 dated 20th September last detailed the planning, construction and commissioning of the first stage of the rail access to PHR’s 14mL x 10mW storage shed. This involved not only completion of sufficient of the 5m diameter turntable facility so that it could be operated – fully rotated or turned from the Arrival Road to provide access to No. 2 Pit Road within the Shed. This track was laid first as it was the easier of the two shed tracks, being straight. It also allowed the inspection pit within the Shed to be commissioned. This track also passed over the partially constructed external de-ashing and blow-down pit, adjacent to which at a later time will see the adjacent building of a simple coal stage to cab-floor height along with a water column. A very temporary 4 Road external siding off the turntable was laid, using timber for rails — thus allow the passenger rolling stock to be shunted off the main line and facilitate main line operations.

Image 1. 2020.1905: General view of turntable and Shed, with Ruston standing on 2 Road. The Hunslet steam locomotive can be seen inside the Shed. The base for 1 Road has been dug out for some time. Two short lengths of rail are just “sitting” there, in case of any over-run when Ruston has a carriage on the turntable. Thursday 31/12/2020.

Construction of the rail track from the turntable into the Shed’s 1 Road was not going to be simple as the access required a precise curvature of 18m radius. This would have been comparatively easy on my earlier Weavering Light Railway at Loftus (posted 18/06/2016) as this used 30-lb rail instead of the current 60-lb rail. For curving the 30-lb rail I used a manually operated jim-crow. However, bending of the 60-lb rail by this method is not practical. Previously, when building the PHR main line, bending of the 60-lb rail had been achieved by Mario dragging one end of track using his heavy bull-dozer, with the other end connected to previously laid track. This method was not totally satisfactory, resulting in uneven curvature down to around 17m which will at some time in the future need to be relaid to our desired minimum main line radius of 20 metres.

Image 2. 2021.0167: The new sleepers have been concreted into place, Josh and Phil confirm that each sleeper is the precise correct height before the rails are laid. Friday, 26/02/2021.

Recycled plastic sleepers are being used throughout the depot area as these are being encased in road-base to provide a level walking surface but would still be subject to water penetration.

The original length of the Storage Shed was to be 12 metres and provided for the access track to 1 Road to be of 20 metres radius… However, it was subsequently realised that the original measurements of the Shed were external and not internal and thus would not be able to accommodate the intended vehicles all under cover. Lengthening the Shed by two metres meant that the desired external curvature of the track between the turntable and the Shed had to be achieved over a distance of two metres less than initially proposed and thus sharper than the originally proposed 20 metres. It would now need to be of 18 metres radius, requiring the track gauge to be widened by 10mm to 620mm to enable the required radius curvature. How could the rail be curved at a constant radius rather than the previous method?

Phil and Josh commenced internet searches to ascertain the availability of a suitable commercially available hydraulic rail bender, but quickly came to the conclusion that acquisition of one for PHR would be, to say the least, rather costly. They then turned their skills to design one which could be manufactured locally, using an available hydraulic ram. Following discussions with Andrew at the local T-Line Steel Fabrication, the purchased hydraulic ram was incorporated into a surround which would clamp over 60-lb rail. A trial proved to be very successful and costing less than half the commercial product.

In the meantime, the temporary timber rail track on 4 Road off the turntable had been lifted and permanent 60-lb track laid down, but not initially spiked. Surveying equipment was used to determine the height of the sleepers so that the rail when laid would provide for a level track. The bases for the sleepers were excavated at 1.5m centres, this being possible because the rail being used is far heavier than required for the axle loading of PHR’s locomotives and rolling stock. The previously purchased plastic sleepers are being used in the turntable area for longevity as all track will be back-filled with road base so as to provide an over-all level walking and vehicle surface. Three concrete piers were used to hold each sleeper to the correct height, this being confirmed by the use of the surveying equipment and a spirit level. Two straight lengths of 12.1m rail were brought up from the pile at the south-western end of the property and laid in on the sleepers. Screwed dog-spikes hold the rail to the plastic sleeper. Previously these had been installed and tightened manually. This was found to be laborious and time-consuming, so I was easily convinced to invest in a battery-powered rattling gun which has proved to be most efficient and quick. On completion of this work, the three passenger carriages and flat wagon were returned to this siding for open storage.

At the time of preparing this Report, the same process was followed to lay the sleepers for 3 Road. As this rail will be laid parallel to 4 Road, it will need to be curved as it radiates from the turntable. This similar process will be followed for 5 Road. Head-shunts will have to be laid on the opposite side of the turntable for these three tracks, just as was done for 2 Road. It is possible at a later stage for the 5 Road head-shunt to be extended to run parallel to the southern side of the Storage Shed, thus providing for even more siding space.

Image 3. 2021.0169: With the concrete set, the sleeper surrounds were filled with road base. Friday 26/02/2021.

Image 4. 2021.0208: Rail already partially curved was retrieved from the storage pile and placed ready for installation. Thursday 04/03/2021.

The laying of the sleepers for the access to No. 1 Road within the Storage Shed followed a somewhat similar process to that already described for 4 Road, except that the sub-surface was excavated for the full length of the connection. Because of the curve, the plastic sleepers were also placed closer together. String lines from the centre of the 2 Road access track were used to determine the centre line of the sleepers on 1 Road, and from this, the actual placing of the rails so as to provide for a constant radius curve, leaving a short straight abutting the turntable and the existing track within the Shed.

Image 5. 2021.0221: PHR’s specially made rail bender is clipped on to the rail, Josh closes the exhaust valve while is other hand is on the pump. Friday 05/03/2021.

Image 6. 2021.0222: With the rail to be curved slightly elevated and supported by a single metal bar, Josh has commenced pumping while Phil stands ready to assist in levering the rail over. Friday 05/03/2021.

The hydraulic rail bender has proved to be most efficient and surprisingly quick in bending the initial inner rail to the correct radius. Bending commenced from the Shed as the rail had to be fish-pated to the existing rail protruding from the Shed. This work was completed in the early evening of Thursday 4th March, with the 12.1m length of rail being cut back to fit. The next day saw the process repeated for the outer rail, both being screw bolted into the sleepers.

Image 7. 2021.0225: Almost there! With Phil holding the curve rail almost aligned to the turntable, Josh drills for a dog spike to hold the rail in place. Dave looks on, supervising and offering helpful (?) suggestions. Friday 05/03/2021.

Image 8. 2021.0228: The excess rail is cut. Friday, 05/03/2021.

Dave was on hand to fire up the Ruston diesel which was brought out of 2 Road in the Shed on to the turntable and swung around to line up with 1 Road. The Ruston was moved slightly on to the new track so that one set of driving wheels would apply pressure to the rail to make a firm fit to the turntable base plate for welding. (In case you were wondering, we had provided an expansion joint at the shed end of the track, allowing hot days – even though this track is in shade during the late afternoons.)

Image 9. 2021.0237: I somehow feel that Dave’s efforts in helping to turn the Ruston on the ‘table may not be fully appreciated! Friday 05/03/2021.

Image 10. 2021.0247: With one set of Ruston wheels firmly holding the newly laid track down, Phil welds the in place in relation to the turntable. Friday, 05/03/2021.

At 1515 hours on the Friday, 5th March, Dave powered the Ruston gently over the new section of track – the first of a number of runs for testing and, of course, photographic purposes. All that needs to be done now is for the track surrounds to be filled with road base and “whacker-packed” to provide a firm level walking and vehicular access area – the first use being to allow access to T-Line’s Telehandler Crane to move the Fowler frame to the western end of 1 Road so that greater use can be made of this track – hopefully to be able to store the Ruston and one carriage inside the Shed and thus under secure cover.

Image 11. 2021.0249: Dave has gently edged the Ruston over the newly laid track into 1 Road within the Shed while Phil looks on, admiring his handiwork. Friday, 05/03/2021.

Image 12. DLI.0512: Drone view of the completed access track. Garrett the gnome look on. I can just be seen, supervising from within the Shed. Saturday, 06/03/2021. Image by Josh Burke.

Next — to prepare the Hunslet steam locomotive for a belated boiler inspection! Also – to prepare the Perry locomotive for transport to its new owner. But this is to be covered in following Progress Reports.


SM Loftus.

4 thoughts on “Progress Report 65: Turntable and Associated Track Work

  1. Pete: you are rapidly assembling all the texts needed for a book: “Loftus – Pete’s Hobby Railway Story”! I found the meaning below. It would be a terrific read! Why not apply for a grant to have the book professionally produced. That saves you the work in preparing the story. You have a wonderful story to show to others, so why not do it now! John Pagett

    Loftus Name Meaning

    English (Yorkshire): habitational name from Loftus in Cleveland, Lofthouse in West Yorkshire, or Loftsome in East Yorkshire. All are named from Old Norse lopt ‘loft’, ‘upper storey’ + hús ‘house’, the last being derived from the dative plural form, húsum. Houses built with an upper storey (which was normally used for the storage of produce during the winter) were a considerable rarity among the ordinary people of the Middle Ages. Irish: English surname adopted by certain bearers of the Gaelic surname Ó Lochlainn (see Laughlin) or Ó Lachtnáin

    1. Thanks, John, for the alternative background for Loftus. It has given me an idea for a future Progress Report, or what-ever my Wem Master decides to call it!

  2. Hi Pete,
    The 60lb rail bender is brilliant! looks to be compact and easy to use. I also have a manual Jim Crow and you need a small crane just to lift it. This is same for the hydraulic ones I have seen the railways use. Well done! I may have to get some details when it is time for me to bend my 60lb rail. Cheers Geoff

    1. I’m waiting on the guys who designed and had it built to write a more detailed report on “how to …” I went ahead with this report after waiting for a while!

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